Success as a lawyer in today’s world not only requires professional competency in your chosen practice area, it relies on your ability to connect and build trust with your clients through effective communication. Your communication skills influence just about every aspect of your role as a lawyer from writing emails, to how you present and describe your services, and how you talk with clients one on one. In every area, strong communication skills are paramount for success.
The following is a brief description of the most common mistakes we see lawyers (and many professionals for that matter) make in communicating with prospective clients, and how to fix them for the greatest impact on your level of success.
You would never show up to court with ratty clothes, your hair a mess, and flip flops. Right? Presenting to potential new clients without having an equally professional-looking, well thought through, branded presentation is the equivalent of showing up to court in your workout clothes. The look and feel of your presentation will communicate a lot about you and your law practice, even without words, and will often be a prospective client's first impression. It is mission-critical to make it count.
Ways to Fix: If budget is a factor, consider the following inexpensive alternatives to hiring a designer to create your branded slides. Google Slides has numerous templates already laid out that you can use for free. You can also purchase inexpensive more polished templates here that will make you look like you hired a designer. Or you can hire an inexpensive, but quality designer here. Important warning: What you save in cost you ultimately pay in time with these options.
How many hours do you prepare for court? How much time do you spend organizing and preparing paperwork? It is critically important to put this same level of dedication and thought into structuring your initial meetings with clients so you can be sure you are communicating in the most effective way, right from the start.
When you have it thought through exactly what you need to say and do from the minute prospective clients sit down across from you, in-person or virtually, you will be able to set clear expectations, present an agenda, and follow it—making the best use of their time, and yours. Without being prepared in this way, you run the risk of potential clients being confused, leaving with inadequately answered questions, and most likely either delaying their decision to work with you or not engaging you at all.
For example, lawyers trained to practice in the New Law Business Model way use a structured and scripted initial meeting that establishes expectations, creates an experience where clients feel understood, helps them to ask the right questions, and shifts their perspective from thinking about fees to thinking about the value of the outcome they want to experience.
Even though this meeting is scripted, it is always personal, helping our lawyers truly get to know their clients, understand their needs, and ensure they feel cared for. And to top it off, this initial meeting structure is designed to support their prospects toward taking the next clear steps and results in these lawyers getting hired 97.5% of the time by the people who need their services.
Ways to Fix: Are unstructured initial client meetings sabotaging your law practice? Download the Client Intake and Consult Solution for Busy Lawyers and get 5 simple, proven shifts to get more clients for your law practice, at higher fees, right away.
When you are an accomplished, intelligent, and motivated professional, which most lawyers are (you never would have made it through law school otherwise), there is also a tendency to talk way too much instead of listening and asking questions.
Look for this tendency and then resist the temptation to rely on your well-honed skill to craft compelling arguments at the same time as the other person is talking. Otherwise, you are likely to miss important details that will allow you to serve them with excellence.
Note: Potential clients already come with the expectation that you possess the expertise they require. They are looking for you to guide them through their unique circumstances rather than dictate what they should or should not do. The difference can often be subtle to how a potential client experiences the way you share your expertise. The best way to manage this is by showing up prepared with a few key questions, and then listen while they talk. You’ll likely be prompted to ask deeper questions as the conversation unfolds. In doing this, your clients will walk away feeling like they were heard and you will have earned their initial trust.
Ways to Fix: Throughout your regular day start noticing how often you do the talking versus when you are letting the other person talk. Pay special attention to when you are listening from a place of curiosity and when you are listening in order to formulate your response. There is nothing wrong with either. The key is to notice the difference between both styles, which one is helpful in which settings, and how each can support what you hope to accomplish.
But it takes more than just getting clients to hire you that builds a truly successful law practice. New Law Business Model is here to provide the training, resources, tools, and guidance that will allow you to serve your clients at a higher level while being more human, earning a better income, and taking control of your schedule so you can have a life and law practice you love. If you’re ready to find out more about how this could work for you, schedule a call with a Law Business Advisor today.